If the volume of Division I commits can be any indication as to how special a high school team can be, the Victor Blue Devils are primed for a big run in Section 5, within the emerging New York hotbed of Rochester.
On the weekend following the Thanksgiving holiday, freshman midfielder Andrew Russell decided to go with the Virginia Cavaliers, joining SweetLax teammate Ross Pridemore.
Russell becomes the 11th Blue Devil from head coach Jim Andre’s program and after Alex Mabbett’s commitment to JHU in September, he’s second to verbal in Victor’s 2018 class. He also looked at Johns Hopkins and Penn State, garnering interest from Michigan and Syracuse, among others.
Combining his 6-foot, 155-pound frame with three-sport athleticism and a slick and savvy alley dodging style of play, Russell was said to impress at Legacy and FLG in 3d with Kevin Martin’s SweetLax program. In comparison to other touted members of freshman class, his fall recruiting schedule was shortened after being pulled up to the varsity football team to play wide receiver and safety, and he’ll also play forward on the JV hoops team in the winter.
Martin, who was also quick to recognize’s Russell easygoing and friendly personality as a key part of the team’s chemistry, has seen Russell blossom first hand. Like most kids this age, he pointed out that he’ll need to continue to play other sports while also trying to dedicate time to the weight room to get stronger and pack on more muscle. His current skill set, however, looks like it has the potential to do well in the ACC down the road.
“There aren’t many kids who are over 6’0 tall who can shoot accurately with both hands,” Martin says of the future Wahoo. “He’s a lot smoother than a lot of the kids I’ve seen in the 2018 class and I think he has very good vision and footwork. Andrew’s not one of those players who gets way with not moving his feet much because he’s so athletic, so I’d say that’s a good sign. Russell’s a fun player to watch.”
Here’s what Russell had to say about his decision:
What made you decide on Virginia?
To be honest, I couldn’t think of any negatives about the school. On the way back from one of my visits [to another program], I talked to my parents about all of the schools and there weren’t any bad things to say about our experience with Virginia. All of those coaches – especially Starsia and Van Arsdale, who I dealt with the most – were such good guys and were very direct and comfortable. Coach [Marc] Van Arsdale did an awesome job recruiting me, I had a lot of calls with him and always loved what he had to say.
How did your visit to UVA go?
I went down three weekends ago and enjoyed every minute of it. On the Friday night, we went to the basketball game and that was pretty unbelievable to see that atmosphere in the arena. The next day, it felt awesome seeing the lacrosse facilities – it was a real eye-opener being in Klockner Stadium and I couldn’t imagine how amazing it will be to play on that field in a couple of years.
What was the whole recruiting process like for you?
Over the summer, I had no idea that these schools would be looking at me soon. Football season ended recently and because I love the game of lacrosse, I was driven to play well in those [fall] tournaments. After the first one, I was told to call a few coaches and went from there with some visits. I thought why not make a choice now because I’m ready, also know I wasn’t going to have the time during the season plus I wouldn’t like to visit next summer when nobody’s there.
How would you describe your experience with SweetLax so far?
Playing with SweetLax has been awesome, it’s a bunch of great kids and coaches that all love each other. The chemistry is on point because so many of us in Rochester have been playing together for a long time. It’s cool knowing that I’ll be playing with Ross [Pridemore] at UVA and hopefully a few more guys on the team decide to commit there.
You’re obviously new to the high school, but what’s your outlook for Victor this spring?
Our varsity team should be very good this year and we’re hoping to win sectionals, though we moved up a class so that’ll be tough but it’ll be a fun challenge. There a lot of great players on the squad, including juniors Jamie Trimboli (Syracuse), Ryan Maloney (Cornell) and our face-off man going to Albany, T.D. Ierlan. Definitely a lot of players I haven’t mentioned, a lot of youth but it’s a great group of guys and it’ll be fun to see what happens.